Shockingly bad, offensive stuff from the American Brent Weinbach is a man who divides opinion. Hailed by his fans as a master of the absurd, Weinbach’s ultra-deadpan delivery allows him to run through a range of ages and races in his meandering tour of mainly American pop culture. Or at least he thinks it does. The premise of his show – echoed in the oh-so-ironic title – is that when he says something that sounds like a parody of a particular social group, such as black Americans, then it is not really him, but a deconstruction of different comedy styles. Take his approach to Def Jam, for example. The black American troupe were regulars on US television in the 1990s and its stars, like Queen Latifah and Martin Lawrence, went on to become household names. When Weinbach spent ages on a long and graphic riff about black Americans having sex, it didn't work. I don’t know if people were laughing at the joke, or the fact it was being told by a self-styled geeky white man, or whether Weinbach was just encouraging the mainly white audience to laugh at black Americans. Whatever the intention, it fell flat with many of the crowd. There is some material that simply cannot be saved by claiming irony as a retrospective defence. I didn’t laugh at all. The venue was only half-full and four people – of varying races and sexes – walked out.
This cannot have come as a surprise to Weinbach, who has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about his act, and how to cram so many social groups, and so many varying styles of comedian, into his hour.
What Weinbach has produced, however, only stands out from the crowd by the ferocity of the material. To my mind, after more than a decade of visiting Edinburgh, Appealing to the Mainstream was notable only for its crudeness and cruelty, rather than than its innovation.Weinbach’s act isn’t clever enough to be funny and isn’t strange enough to make him a real eccentric. While it may seem absurd to some, it will sound offensive to many others. It is simply dire. 0 stars Review by Peter Edwards • Brent Weinbach is at the Gilded Balloon at 9.15pm